In order for the Kingdom of Heaven to be established, Christ must show His royal authority. The countries of the world are divided into democratic and autocratic. In the church there is the authority of God and of the people. Democratic countries are not totally governed by the people; after the people elect their leaders, the leaders are those in authority. The United States is a democratic country but to go or not to go to war against Iraq is not for the people to decide. Therefore, people say that the Church is really democratic; all decisions are made by the members of the church in a general assembly. But the democracy in the church is really God’s authority; letting God work in each person’s heart moving them to make the same decision.
Before John wrote about future events, he gave a description of the King of the Kingdom: His authority, His majesty and His glory. Many people think that the authority of the Church is to give out orders, to hire or fire people, to decide how to use their money, to drive someone out of the church, or to remove an Emperor from his office and so they need an army to safeguard that kind of authority.
We need to know clearly what true authority is. From the comments that the Lord gives to the different churches in chapters 2 and 3, we can see distinctly what is important in the eyes of the Lord. The church that God is pleased with is the church where God has the authority. The church that God rebukes is the one that follows the patterns of this world, a church that is influenced by worldly authority.
A Catholic pope was made fun of by the people when he proudly said: “Peter once said to a lame man: ‘Silver or gold I do not have.’ Today we have silver and we have gold.” People laughed at him and said : “But what a pity that you cannot say the rest of the words that Peter said: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’
That pope did not see what true authority of the Kingdom of Heaven is; he thought that having wealth and world power was something to brag about; not knowing that what is most important is to have the authority to heal diseases and to cast out demons ; the authority to bind things on earth and be bound in heaven; to loose things on earth and be loosed in heaven; the authority to cast down Satan to earth; the authority to overcome hell; to be victorious over the sinful nature of the body and the depraved character of a human being.
HIS AUTHORITY TO JUDGE
12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands.
On the Lord’s Day, while John was worshiping God on the Isle of Patmos, he heard someone speak to him so he turned around to see the voice who was speaking to him on that deserted island. The first thing that he saw when he turned was seven golden lampstands, which represented seven churches, which are all the churches of the whole world.
This was a vision, a vision of the sanctuary in heaven. They were not really seven golden lampstands that were brought down from heaven for John to see.
The vision of the sanctuary starts here and will alternate with different visions until the last part of the book. Sometimes what is seen is not the lampstand but the altar of incense, the twenty four elders, the cherubim, the throne of God, the arc of the covenant, etc.
Here John sees Christ as the Lord who walks among the churches, this shows that He rules among the churches, He is the Lord of the Church, the King of the Kingdom of Heaven.
13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.
The clothing represents His status. In Daniel chapter 10, Daniel saw the Archangel Gabriel and his description of the angel is somewhat similar but it does not have a long robe and the golden sash is around the waist. Ancient Chinese emperors and judges wore long robes , representing their authoritative status. If the golden sash was worn around the waist, like the description of the angel that Daniel saw, it showed that the person was doing a labor; it was the clothing of a worker. If the sash was worn around the chest it represented authority to rule and to judge.
The Lord among the lampstands indicates that He is the Lord who rules over all the churches of the world. Even though He is in heaven, He still cares for the Church on earth and rules over the affairs of the church. He is not physically among us but He is still the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, He is the Lord of the Church; the Church must not close its doors to the Lord.
Here it says, “Someone like a son of man,” which means that what John saw was not an angel. When Jesus was on earth He often called Himself the “Son of Man”, to emphasize that he was really a human being. He rarely called Himself the “Son of God”, he only did it when he needed to demonstrate His deity. Before Hong Kong was returned to China, the people of Hong Kong pointed out emphatically that they wanted Hong Kong to be ruled by the people of Hong Kong, they did not want to be ruled by government officials sent by China. Directly or indirectly we stress that we want a real person to be our King, someone who would truly understand our needs, we want to be ruled by a real person, not by an alien from outer space, an angel, a robot or a beast. Our King is a real person; Jesus Christ is the best King.
14 祂的頭與發皆白，如白羊毛、如雪，眼目如同火焰，15 腳好像在爐中煆煉光明的銅……16 祂右手拿著七星，從祂口中出來一把兩刃的利劍，面貌如同烈日放光。
14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace… 16 in his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
After depicting His clothing, now John is describing His glory. Glory, refers to a strong bright light. At that time the only things that were very white were snow and white wool; the white wool of a new born lamb. The color of the hair was not like that of an elderly person but rather a very shiny bright white. The paper for copy machines is white, the degree of whiteness of the paper is written on the package, but when a sheet of copy machine paper is held next to a luminescent screen, there is no comparison because luminescent white is the whitest.
有人把｢煆煉｣讀成｢鍛煉｣。祂的腳不是經過鍛煉，鍛煉是用在鍛煉鋼鐵的強度，或改變它形狀。｢煆煉｣描寫燒得通紅發亮的情況。光明的銅原意是白銅, chalko ( 銅) 加上libanw ( 白), 源自希伯來文。這裡所說的銅，也不是copper ，是brass ，是銅與鋅的合金。燒透之時，白清、明亮、耀眼。祂全身都是發光明亮的。
His feet were like burnished bronze. The word used here is chalkolibano ( chalko = brass and libanos =whiteness). It is not copper but brass. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. This metal as it burns in a furnace will become so white that would look almost transparent and dazzling to the eyes due to its insupportable brilliance.
Angels also emit light, they have a glowing appearance. The description of the Archangel Gabriel in Daniel chapter 10 is similar to the description here, which is the reason why these celestial beings are called angels of light. When Jesus was born, the angels appeared to the shepherds to bring them the good news and the glory of the Lord shone around them. After Moses came down from being 40 days with God on top of the mountain his body was shining because of the Lord’s glory.
The body of an ordinary person is sinful and thus will not emit any brightness. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The distinguished feature here is that He is the Son of Man, He is a human being, yet He has glory. After He resurrected from the dead He was the first to receive a glorious body. In the future, when we are resurrected, we will also have a glorious body like Him. John saw the glory of the Lord 60 years before when they were on a mountain top, Jesus’ body was transfigured before them, His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. When Jesus resurrected He also emitted a strong light. The glory of the Lord is intensely bright; no wonder when John saw the Lord, he fell at His feet.
HAS AN AUTHORITATIVE VOICE
15 聲音如同眾水的聲音。16 祂右手拿著七星.
15 His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars.
His voice was loud and clear, overpowering the strong waves of Patmos. Even next to a great waterfall or among a great cavalry, the Lord’s authoritative, powerful and irresistible voice is bound to be heard. When a person faces a disaster, an incurable disease or a financial crisis and yet does not want to listen to His voice and does not know how to turn to Him, that person, undoubtedly, does not belong to Lord.
His right hand, His most powerful hand, held seven stars which represent the seven churches, which are the angels of the churches of the whole world. This means that He protects all the churches on earth. The word “angel” appears 67 times in the book of Revelation, most of the time an angel is a messenger; but in the first three chapters it represents the Church as a whole, it is not referring to a specific angel or a particular leader.
16 …coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword.
This vision is too weird, how can a sword come out of His mouth? Actually, holding seven stars in His hands is also very weird; a sword is smaller than a star, but these are all symbolic. It indicates that His word is a powerful weapon; He will use His Word to lead our battles. He does not need to use swords, guns, cannons or nuclear weapons, but only His authoritative command.
AUTHORITY OVER LIFE AND DEATH
17 我一聽見，就仆倒在祂腳前，像死了一樣。祂用右手按著我說：不要懼怕，我是首先的，我是末後的，｢18 又是那存活的。我曾死過，現在又活了，直活到永永遠遠，並且拿著死亡和陰間的鑰匙。｣
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead , and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
When John saw the glorious Lord, immediately he fell at His feet like a dead man not because he was afraid of dying, he was almost 100 years old, all his senior fellow apostles had already died as martyrs; certainly he did not fear death. His reaction was what every human being feels when seeing a glorious spiritual being. Just like the reaction that the prophet Daniel had when he saw the Archangel Gabriel.
Here, the depiction of the Lord is one that no human being can imagine. No one can use the Lord’s description to describe himself. Through death He destroyed the one who had power over death. He took back the power that Satan had over death. Death and Hades are no longer Satan’s dominion. He opened the prison doors of those who were spiritually captive so they could be delivered from death. People are afraid of dying because death is like being in jail. It’s a place we are not familiar with, a place where our rights are taken away from us. But if the person knows someone with a prison key or has a relative that has a prison key, like the Lord who has the keys of death and of Hades, then there is no need to be afraid any more.
祂雖然經歷了死亡，像所有人一樣。但復活之後，將會活到永遠，證明祂神兒子的身分。祂是生命的源頭，掌管生命權柄。人自以為了不起，可以復制生命，誰知人只是把生命加工，人無法把死物變成生物。人預言可以使人長生不老，所以有人死了，還要冰凍著屍體，希望有一天可再活下去，但神早已經說了，人只可以活到120 歲( 創6:3) 。
Even though he died like every human being, after His resurrection He is living eternally proving His identity as the Son of God. He is the source of life, He has authority over life. Some people feel high and mighty that they can duplicate life, in fact, they can only change it. No one can give life to an inanimate object. Some people are predicting that in the future they can make humans live forever, so when people die they would cryopreserve them with the intention of future revival; but God already said long ago that humans will only live to one hundred and twenty years (Genesis 6:3).
We are like a battery that runs out of energy and dies. The Lord lives forever and ever. He is the first and the last, He was there from beginning and will always exist, He is timeless. People want to live forever so they made out the theory of reincarnation to deceive themselves. Theologians say that death is the loss of life, evil is the loss of goodness; darkness is the loss of light. Darkness, evil and death are nothing but the loss of something. But the Bible looks at darkness, evil and death from another perspective; He will throw death and Hades into the lake of fire. The greatest authority in the whole Universe is the authority over death. If we have the Lord of Life, we have nothing to fear because there is nothing that He cannot do.